Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Foster Critical Thinking

by Elizabeth Juneau
Co-presenter with Dr. Jerald Meadows
Webinar:  Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Foster Critical Thinking

Bloom’s Taxonomy was named for Benjamin Bloom, who created the taxonomy in 1956, revised in 2000. The taxonomy has different domains, but our focus is the cognitive learning domain. The cognitive domain has seven levels:

  1. Knowledge/Remembering- Basic recall and remembering of facts
  2. Comprehension/Understanding- Understanding of facts and ideas
  3. Application/Applying- Making use of the knowledge and information; problem solving
  4. Analysis/Analyzing- Examining and breaking apart information; making inferences and giving evidence to support a claim
  5. Synthesis/Evaluating- Making a judgement regarding the information; defending opinions and judgements
  6. Evaluate/Creating- Producing and generating ideas independently using knowledge and information; thinking abstractly

When using Bloom’s Taxonomy to plan lessons, begin with your end in mind. What is the goal for your lesson? Your unit? Do you want to cover more than one level in a lecture? What about the end of your course? What do you want your students to gain? By utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can create a road map of where you want to go throughout the course of your individual lectures, modules, and course as whole.

I currently teach sixth grade gifted students in Alabama. For the month of October, our focus in English was Edgar Allen Poe and scary stories, discussing character and plot development, figurative language, and analysis of a piece of literature. I knew, by the end of the unit, I wanted my students to create their own scary story (Level 6) to demonstrate mastery of the skills. I then used each level to scaffold my lessons to get my students to that level. Here are some sample questions I used to guide them through the levels of Bloom’s:

  1. Knowledge/Remembering: Tell me the main events in “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Masque of the Red Death”
  2. Comprehension/Understanding- Compare and contrast Montresor of “The Cask of Amontillado” and Prince from “The Masque of Red Death”
  3. Application/Applying- Sketch a picture of the Prince’s apartment according to the description in “The Masque of the Red Death.” Interpret what each color room represents.
  4. Analysis/Analyzing- Which story do you feel makes the best use of figurative language to create a feeling of uneasiness and suspense? Cite evidence from the text.
  5. Synthesis/Evaluating- Were Prince’s actions in “The Masque of the Red Death” noble? Why or why not?
  6. Evaluate/Creating- After several weeks reading selections by Poe, discussing plot and character development, mood, and tone, students will write their own scary/suspenseful short story.

Bloom’s Taxonomy also creates a level of accountability for the instructor and the students. By clearly laying out the goals for you students at each level, they can see how each part of the course works together and then how to relate what they are learning to other aspects of their coursework. As you move through your course, you can relate the information to other courses, recall back to previous levels if students are stuck “Remember this from a week ago, try thinking about it in a new way…”, and also reference the information and knowledge with clues to say “This bit of information will be used later in in your project this way….”

It is important to remember, the goal in using Bloom’s is to guide your learners up through the taxonomy, gaining and utilizing their knowledge at each level. You can’t skim over levels, then you may run the risk of students not fully grasping the information or knowing how to apply it. As students move forward, mastering each level, they are able to take control of their learning, take control of the information and knowledge presented, the student can be empowered, growing a student in their knowledge, but growing as an individual who is capable of so much more than we or they can believe.

For other information about using Bloom’s to enhance your Collaborative Learning Strategy (CLS) check out this matrix of verbs which identify the level of Blooms.  Also, if you weren’t able to attend the webinar, please check it out at the link above.

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